Security will be enhanced at Eden Mental Health Centre and Boundary Trails Health Centre following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Southern Health-Santé Sud.
“We know that a lack of proper system planning in Manitoba’s health-care system has created inconsistent security standards from one health facility to the next,” said Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen. “We are responding to this historic imbalance by reviewing security at health-care facilities throughout the province, listening to concerns raised and, in the case of Eden Mental Health Centre, establishing a flexible, deployable security team that will improve safety for clients and staff.”
The agreement, signed earlier this week, will see the region and health centre cost-share a security contract that allows two on-site security personnel to be placed at Eden on a 24-7 basis. This will allow the facility to admit clients at risk of or already exhibiting violent behaviour while reducing the need for patients to wait in the emergency department for access to an acute psychiatric bed. It will also lessen the need for police to supervise patients at Boundary Trails while they await an assessment or admission.
The partnership will provide the flexibility to allow one of the two on-shift personnel at Eden to respond as required at Boundary Trails Health Centre when security concerns arise there.
“Southern Health-Santé Sud is focused on ensuring that clients experience safe, high-quality and timely care,” said Jane Curtis, chief executive officer, Southern Health–Santé Sud health region. “The implementation of the enhanced security at Eden is an important step toward achieving this goal. As part of this process, we are also reviewing the security needs at other regional centres.”
“The introduction of security services will allow Eden Mental Health Centre to be better able to meet the mental health needs of residents of southern Manitoba, while ensuring safety of all patients and staff,” said Kym Kaufmann, chief executive officer, Eden Health Care Services. “As part of the mental health and addictions system in Manitoba, the addition of security will also help improve access to mental health services for all Manitobans.”
These security enhancements were recommended in the VIRGO report, which outlined a strategy to improve mental health and addictions services in Manitoba. They build on a number of initiatives announced in recent months including:
- a provincewide review ordered by the minister of security programs, services and systems at key health-care facilities;
- the introduction of amendments under The Police Services Amendment Act, which would create a new institutional safety officer designation that provides security personnel with expanded authority, prescribed training and appropriate protections; and
- an amendment to The Mental Health Act that allows police officers to transfer custody of individuals awaiting an involuntary medical examination to a qualified person.
The Mental Health Act amendment is expected to be proclaimed soon, the minister noted.
“We are cognizant of the fact that a variety of factors have contributed to a demonstrated increase over the past few years in instances of aggression at Eden and Boundary Trails,” said Friesen. “Our government flagged this as a priority and we are pleased to have partnered with the health region and Eden to ensure patient and staff safety are enhanced at these facilities.”